The Guthrie Theater presents Death of a Salesman
By Scott Edwards

Arthur Miller's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama was first presented at the Guthrie as part of its inaugural season in 1963. Few American plays of the 20th century hold as prominent and enduring a place in our collective imagination as this work. Artistic Director Joe Dowling reunites with Guthrie favorites Peter Michael Goetz and Helen Carey to bring the story of Willy Loman to life. Guthrie Resident Sound Designer Scott W. Edwards is the sound designer for the production. Following its run on the thrust stage, this Guthrie production will be presented at the Dublin Theatre Festival.

While the sound design is not overly complex, there are several interesting highlights.

The production is being run on SFX PASC 5.60a build 13. Files are streamed from one of our LINUX servers over a copper gigabit network.  Guthrie Audio Network Article.  Audio outputs are via 2 Echo Audio Layla24 units for a total of 16 outputs. The analog outputs feed our main console, a 48 fader Euphonix CS2000.

 

The Euphonix sends audio out to 18 speaker locations.
The original music composed by Alex North has been re-orchestrated by Andrew Cooke. We recorded the new orchestrations at Minnesota Public Radio's Studio M, which has a beautiful 1500 square foot main room, and a wonderful microphone kit.

The instruments were flute, alto flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, trumpet, piano, harp and strings. The harp and strings were performed on a GigaStudio 160 sampler. This was all recorded into a Digidesign ProTools HD rig running at 24 bits and a sampling rate of 96Khz. Final mixes were left at 24 bits but were resampled to 44.1Khz, stereo for playback via SFX.

There were several voice-overs recorded for this production. These were recorded at our small studio at the Guthrie. We used a Beyer MCD100 digital microphone recorded into a ProTools HD rig running at 24 bits, 48Khz. These files were then resampled to 44.1 KHz, stereo.

In the second act, there is a sequence where Willy Loman's boss shows off his new toy. A wire recorder. To simulate the operation of the wire recorder, we have taken a working antique and replaced its electronics with a Sennheiser Evolution wireless in-ear receiver and a small 15 watt amplifier. The amplifier powers a 4" driver from a JBL Control 1.The wireless unit and the amplifier are powered by a small 12VDC gel-cell battery.

The small amount of sound effects were pulled from our on-line library. We have developed a program called SoundDB. This is basically a program based on MySQL and PHP scripting. It runs on our LINUX server and is accessed via any web browser on our network. You can search for files and then audition them through your browser. Then you can select the files you want, and have them copied into your working directory. It also allows you to keep track of and manage files that are in your working directory. We currently have about 10,000 wave files in our data base.
At the end of the run here in Minneapolis, this production will be going over to Dublin, Ireland to be presented at the Dublin Theater Festival. The production will be open at the Gaiety Theater and run for 2 weeks. This will occasion the kick off of Stage Research's SFX rental program. We are specifying a SFX Certified Touring System for the production.  This rig consists of 2 rack mount SFX DAWs, 2 layla24's, a rack mount LCD, keyboard, mouse, a Rosendahl Nanosync word clock generator, and an APC UPS. All mounted in a shock mount Anvil case. We have specified this rig because we absolutely need a bullet-proof playback solution. The rest of the sound package will be rented locally.